Environment

DEQ confirms van der Vaart, Evan on “investigatory leave” — apparently with pay

The email was brief, just a sentence-long, and sent to the media shortly before 9 last night: “DEQ employees Donald van der Vaart and John Evans have been placed on investigatory leave.”

The statement was attributed to NC Department Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan and came from the agency’s communications director, Jamie Kritzer. It was prompted by an Policy Watch story yesterday that reported van der Vaart nor Evans, former top officials at DEQ, had been inexplicably absent for work and without a definite return date.

Van der Vaart and Evans have worked as section chiefs in the Division of Air Quality since the first quarter of this year. That’s when van der Vaart demoted himself and Evans– both political appointees under former Gov. Pat McCrory. to avoid being fired by the new administration.

No reason was given for their placement on leave, but both men had openly rebuked current leadership’s environmental stance by publishing an anti-regulatory op-ed in a national law journal; meanwhile van der Vaart accepted an appointment to the EPA’s revamped and anti-regulatory Science Advisory Board, which DEQ leadership also opposed.

According to the state’s online disciplinary handbook, investigative leave “temporarily removes an employee from work status” but does not constitute a disciplinary action. However, the information during the investigation may be the basis of disciplinary action.

Presumably then, van der Vaart, who earns more than $98,000 a year, and Evans, whose annual salary is nearly $93,000, are being paid while on investigative leave.

There are four reasons to place an employee on investigatory leave, according to the handbook,

  • To investigate allegations of performance or conduct deficiencies that would constitute just cause for disciplinary action;
  • To provide time within which to schedule and conduct a pre-disciplinary conference;
  • To avoid disruption of the work place and/or to protect the safety of persons or property;
  • To facilitate a management directed referral or fitness for duty evaluation to ensure the employee’s safety and the safety of others and to obtain medical information regarding the employee’s fitness to perform his or her essential job functions.

Investigatory leave can last no longer than 30 days without written approval of the State Human Resources Director, for a maximum of 60 days. At the end of the leave period, an agency must place an employee on active work status or take disciplinary action.

Check Also

BREAKING: DHHS investigating suspected cancer cluster near Lake Norman

This is a developing story. Policy Watch will ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

GOP lawmakers want North Carolinians to make sweeping, permanent changes to the state Constitution a [...]

The lump started small and hid behind her ear. Harmless, the doctor said, nothing to worry about. So [...]

The Senate voted along party lines Tuesday night to overturn a partial judicial redistricting bill i [...]

Viola Williams has been crunching numbers and working out possible solutions since last week, when t [...]

From 1999-2016, opioid-related overdose fatalities increased by more than 800 percent in North Carol [...]

Would that North Carolina lawmakers had been so direct as “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, a virulent white [...]

“I’m speechless.” So began the heartfelt lament of Rep. Verla Insko (D-Orange) late last Friday afte [...]

The post SB 711 – The pig’s roast appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]